Bone Marrow Stem Cell Transplant Completely Cures AIDS In A Man!
Reading the title itself gives a sigh of relief to most of the victims and non-victims of this dreadful disease which has managed to create an equally dreadful fear among humans.
But one of the victims, 45 year old Timothy Ray Brown has created history by getting cured completely of AIDS. He is the first person in the world to have the virus removed from his body.
According to the researchers associated with this study, the cure of HIV infection has been achieved.
Mr. Brown, famously known as “The Berlin Patient,” tested positive for HIV for the first time in 1995. Later in 2007, he underwent an extensive treatment for leukemia in Germany where he used to live. During this treatment, Mr. Brown, who now lives in the Bay Area, San Francisco received a bone marrow stem cell transplant.
The donor, from whom the bone marrow was extracted, was immune to HIV infection.
Mr. Brown stopped taking HIV medications soon after the bone marrow transplantation.
Through 30 years of research on HIV virus throughout the world, scientists found that a gene called CCR5 codes for a protein that acts as a receptor for HIV virus outside white blood cells, through which the virus enters the blood stream. In the absence of the receptor, the virus cannot enter the blood cells.
This discovery was a result of the observation that some people are naturally resistant to this virus. Among them, nearly 10-15% of people (Northern Europeans) who have a single copy of the gene have gained resistance against HIV.
Another 1% of the Northern Europe descent showed strong immunity against the virus as they inherited 2 copies of the gene from their parents.
Both these groups possibly had a mutation in the actual gene that made them naturally resistant to the HIV infection.
Mr. Brown’s donor could have possibly had both the copies of the gene.
Although it is not possible to find an exact match of the bone marrow for all people, manipulation of the receptors outside white blood cells can leave the virus unattached, thereby increasing the immunity.